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J Med Virol. 2006;78 Suppl 1:S30-5.

Surveillance of the genetic variation in incident HIV, HCV, and HBV infections in blood and plasma donors: implications for blood safety, diagnostics, treatment, and molecular epidemiology.

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Blood Systems Research Institute, and Department of Laboratory Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA.


Surveillance for molecular variants in blood donors is vital to assuring that blood screening and supplemental assays are sensitive to circulating strains of blood-borne viruses. Blood screening and diagnostic assays licensed in the United States are largely based on prototype viral strains. Documentation of divergent viral strains in the donor pool can lead to accelerated development and licensure of robust serologic and nucleic acid amplification (NAT) assays for donor screening and diagnostic applications. In addition, surveillance for viral variants among donors has implications for assessing the prevalence of drug and vaccine escape mutants and for detecting and monitoring rare variants that may be newly introduced or increasing in the United States donor population. Combined NAT and serologic screening, supplemented by novel serologic testing strategies, can be used to identify donors with incident infections, which are of particular interest with respect to blood safety and public health implications. A systematic program is proposed for the genetic characterization of viral genomes in donors with incident HIV, HCV, or HBV infections.

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